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Refused Berlin handshake: Religious freedom or sexism?
by Carla Bleiker
An imam in Berlin refused to shake a female schoolteacher's hand. She called him misogynistic and ill-adapted to German life. The school has since apologized for her remarks, but the story is far from over.
In Germany and Europe, shaking hands is perhaps the most common way to greet colleagues and acquaintances. But the greeting has recently led to awkward moments and accusations of cultural insensitivity on one hand and gender bias on the other. Most recently, a Shiite Muslim man did not accept a letter of apology that his children's former school had sent after "misunderstandings that led to you ... feeling hurt in your religious freedom, personality or any other way" after he had refused to shake hands with a teacher.
On May 30, the principal of Berlin's private Platanus school had a meeting with the father of one the elementary students she was teaching. The man, an imam from eastern Turkey, refused to shake her hand, at which point, he has claimed, she ended the meeting with him and his son, called him misogynistic and said he should adapt to German culture.
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